Lea Wait’s Thread and Buried hit bookstore shelves and ebook outlets yesterday. Here, for your reading enjoyment, is an excerpt from the beginning of the novel, number nine in the Mainely Needlepoint Mystery Series, supplied by Lea’s publisher, Kensington Books.
THREAD AND BURIED
Still as through Life’s meandering path I stray
Lord be the sweet Companion of my way.
My kind Conducter, to the Blest abode
Of Light, of Life, of happiness and God.
—Sampler titled “An Emblem of Innocence,” stitched in silk on linen by Eliza Mallonee in 1825. Eliza’s sampler does not include an alphabet, but is intricately embroidered with a border of strawberries on two sides, and flowers, birds, and trees on both the top and bottom.
From Harbor Hopes
by Ruth Hopkins
July 4, 1963, a small town on the coast of Maine
The red, white, and blue scarf tied around Amy’s ponytail blew behind her as late afternoon sea breezes cooled the air. She ignored the boats in the harbor, the tourists snapping pictures of the lighthouse, and her red apron, stained with the salt water she’d been steaming lobsters in, and turned inland, toward the pergola on the town green, where Caleb had said he’d meet her.
Caleb. She smiled, just thinking of him. Fate and heritage had brought them together. When she was in kindergarten he’d defended her from first-grade bullies. In junior high he’d carried her books home from school and they’d done homework together on the pine kitchen table while her mother made molasses cookies for them.
When her mother was sick he’d brought flowers to her hospital room, and held Amy as she cried. He and his family had sat behind hers at the funeral. When she was sixteen he’d asked her to wear his class ring. She hadn’t taken it off since then, and had encouraged him to stay in high school even when she knew the life he’d planned as a lobsterman didn’t require graduation.
She turned the corner and waved. He was standing, tall and slim, his crew cut as short as ever, waiting for her, just as he’d said he’d be. He’d never failed her.
Amy waved back, and glanced at her watch. She couldn’t stay long, and neither could he. The Sea Fare, where she worked, expected her back from her break in half an hour, and Caleb would be heading out to Second Sister Island to help his father set up tonight’s fireworks.
She started to run as he held out his arms. They both smelled of lobsters and the sea, and, as their lips met, they knew they were always meant to be together.
“Meet me after the fireworks tonight?” Caleb murmured in her ear. “Down at the wharf?”
Amy nodded. Caleb’s Sea Witch, the inboard lobster boat his grandfather had left him last year, and that he was so proud of, was docked near his father’s lobster boat. “I’ll be there. But not for long.”
Caleb sighed. “Your dad?”
“He told me he wanted me in by ten thirty tonight.”
Caleb broke away and moved to the other side of the pergola. “He won’t always be able to control you, Amy. You’re not a child anymore. You’re seventeen. I have a lobster boat; I can make a living for both of us. And I’m not disappearing.”
“I know,” she said. “But it’s easier if I just tell him I’m going to watch the fireworks with Carol and Joan and Marty.”
“He really hates me, doesn’t he?”
Amy didn’t say anything. They both knew the answer to that question. “We’ll find a way, Caleb. We will.”
He put his arms around her again. “Yes. We will.”
Thousands of vacationers head for the coast of Maine every July looking for lighthouses, beaches, lobster rolls, and cooler temperatures than in their home states. But for those of us who live in Maine full-time, temperatures in the eighties seem hot, and summer isn’t a time for relaxing.
It’s a time to run restaurants and tourist attractions, sell the art and crafts we created during winter months, and convince visitors that Maine is, indeed, “the way life should be.”
That’s the goal of the police, state troopers, Marine Patrol officers, and Coast Guard, too. “The way life should be” should not include murders. And if it does, then solving them as quickly as possible is critical, not only for the victims, but also for Maine’s reputation.
Somehow in the fifteen months I’ve been back in Maine I’ve gotten involved in helping the police do just that.
I’m Angie Curtis. I grew up here in Haven Harbor, but took a ten-year hiatus working for a private investigator in Arizona, which is why I have some of the skills the police are looking for, although you probably wouldn’t guess it if you met me. I’m twenty-eight, I live with my black cat, Trixi, I have ordinary straight brown hair that I pin up in summer. And, oh yes. I have a Glock. Which I know how to use.
But what most people in town know about me is that I run Mainely Needlepoint, a business started by my grandmother. I make sure gift shops, galleries, and decorators have all the needlepointed pillows of eider ducks and lighthouses and harbor scenes they can sell, update our Web site, meet with customers who want custom work, and keep track of the schedules of all the needlepointers who have other jobs.
Nothing to do with crime.
Which is fine by me.
I’ve also been seeing Patrick West. He’s an artist, and runs a gallery in town. And, yes, what most people know about him is that his mother is movie star Skye West.
This summer Patrick and I’d hoped to spend time together, exploring Maine and each other. Patrick even hired a student from the Maine College of Art to “gallery-sit” so he’d have more time in July and August for his own painting and for me.
We didn’t schedule time for any activities other than art and needlepoint and romantic evenings.
That fantasy crumbled when Patrick’s mother announced that her friend, producer Hank Stoddard, had found enough investors so he could make a movie here this summer. Harbor Heartbreak would be directed by Marv Mason, and written by Thomas and Marie O’Day, who’d spent last Christmas with Skye here in the Harbor and fallen in love with the idea of making a movie based on a book written by my friend and fellow needlepointer Ruth Hopkins. Ruth has supported herself for years by writing, and many of her stories are based here in the Harbor. Not many people in town even knew she’s an author, since she writes under different names. Or, they didn’t know before now.
Of course, Patrick’s involved in the film. Skye also recruited me and another fellow needlepointer (and antique dealer) Sarah Byrne, to help lighting and set designer Flannery Sullivan create two sets, one for scenes set in the early 1960s and one for contemporary scenes.
They’d hired a number of locals, and were paying a lot more than minimum wage seasonal jobs paid here, so that was good. “It’ll be a summer to remember,” Gram kept reminding me.
But so far I kept remembering what I’d hoped this summer would be: time for Patrick and me to spend more hours together.
Looked now as though we’d have to wait for fall.
Here it was, already the third week of July, Harbor Heartbreak was set to begin filming in a week, and Patrick and I had hardly seen each other in the past couple of weeks.
To read the rest of Thread and Buried, here’s a buy link to all the usual online booksellers. You can also ask your local independent bookstore and/or your local library to order a copy.
For more information on Lea and her books, you’ll find her website at http://www.LeaWait.com